How To Treat Sickness While In The Wild, Pt. 1

It’s that time again. You’re lost, disoriented, or just farther away from camp than you anticipated. Maybe your plane crashed and you’ve got days before you can expect a rescue attempt. To make matters worse, you’re not feeling very well. Stress and exposure can do terrible things to the body, making it more vulnerable to sickness and infection.

Your first instinct might be too down everything in the first aid kit and hope something will stick. Hold off on that. Attend to any major injuries on you or your party, then tend to the hierarchy of survival; shelter, fire, water, food, health, and communication (rescue).

Dysentery, diarrhea, and parasites are not fun to have while trying to procure food and water but you must push through. Once you have that fire and shelter set up and some fresh water to boil, you can get around to treating your maladies using these different plants.

1. Tannins

While Tannins are not a plant, they are in many plants. If you’ve ever drunk wine or tea and it makes the roof of your mouth feel dry, that’s the effect of tannins. Leaching concentrated tannins of out acorn and oak tree bark, blackberry stems, banana plants, willow bark, and many others.

Usually if you want to eat a more fibrous plant or drink a tea from it, you must leach out the tannins first, but in this case, we want the water to turn black and saturated with tannins as possible. Replace depleted ingredients as needed. Cool the tannin-filled water before use.

Apply the liquid to a compress or burn bandage for burns or skin irritations. You can pour some of the tea on the burned/affected area to ease the pain (not with 3rd-degree burns). If you have bug bites, wash the affected area to relieve itching.

For internal ailment relief, the aim is to make yourself a bit sick to make the parasites sicker. This isn’t recommended as an immediate “go-to” but if you make the tannin tea and drink no more than 6 ounces of it (roughly 1/3 of a canteen cup) you’ll feel terrible for about 1-2 days, but the parasites will be killed off and leave your body.

2. Yarrow

Yarrow is a game changer for pain and injury in the wilderness if you can find it. It’s a member of the wild carrot family, but do not confuse it for its cousins Queen Anne’s Lace or Poison Hemlock. There are many videos on how to tell the differences between them. Don’t attempt to use them unless you can truly tell the difference.

Pull up the plant and look for small, new roots. Those new growth roots can be washed, crushed, and placed on small open wounds to numb the pain. If you eat it, you’ll feel like you just left the dentist because your mouth will be numb for some time. So stick to open wounds.

You can also crush the leaves into a poultice and spread on the inside of a bandage to act as an antiseptic. It will reduce bacterial growth and stave off infection until you can get proper medical attention.

3. Cat Tails

We’ve all seen either on TV, in swampy marshes, or on the side of the road in drainage ditches. Turns out they are an extremely useful tool for survival. Unlike bark or yarrow, you can use the cattail for sustenance as well as medicine. Its uses are mostly topical. Pound the roots into a starchy, pulpy mass for a poultice you can either apply directly or on the inside of a bandage to relieve pain from wounds, burns, inflammation, open sores, and boils.

Cattails have a dozen other uses and I may go in depth in another article, but for now, let them take the pain away.

Please make sure you properly recognize these plants before you use them. You should be as sure that a plant is a yarrow as you are of an apple or an orange. As always, research is key before you step out of your door.

Stay healthy, stay safe.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bryan Bintliff

Bryan is an Army veteran, Masters Student at NYU, and a freelance writer dabbling in travel advice and survival tips... sometimes both at once. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and is enjoying his new weekend warrior status.
Bryan Bintliff

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